Campus News

UK receives 2022 WBEC ORV Regional Corporation of the Year Award

UK was awarded the Regional Corporation of the Year Award for demonstrating exceptional support to Women's Business Enterprises and showcasing values that align with the mission of the Women’s Business Enterprise Council Ohio River Valley.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 9, 2022) — The University of Kentucky was awarded the 2022 Women’s Business Enterprise Council Ohio River Valley (WBEC ORV) Regional Corporation of the Year Award at the regional Catch the Wave Conference this August.

UK’s Supplier Diversity Program, led and managed by Marilyn Clark, won the award as a result of demonstrating exceptional support to women's businesses enterprises (WBE) and showcasing values that align with the mission of WBEC ORV.

The University of Kentucky is a strongly committed WBEC ORV corporate partner that has provided exceptional support, engaging WBEs to access procurement with the institution. We appreciate Marilyn Clark for her time educating our network and extending the mission of WBEC ORV,” said Charolette Harris, vice president of operations and engagement.

UK’s Supplier Diversity Program strives to serve as an advocate for diverse business enterprises (DBEs) which includes minority, women, disabled, LGBTQ and veteran-owned businesses. The ultimate goal of the program is to increase spending with diverse businesses and create community impact in the communities UK serves. The program also works to remove any barriers that reduce the participation of diverse businesses seeking to work with the university.

“I have had the pleasure of working with the dedicated staff at WBEC ORV for many years supporting their efforts to certify, grow and scale WBE companies," Clark said. "Over the past few years, we have focused on corporate engagement. We have over 70 corporate members in private and public industries. As we grow our supplier diversity program at UK, this involvement allows us to benchmark our program against the very best in the country and to engage with over 1,100 certified women-owned businesses in our region. I appreciate the support Barry provides that allows me the time to work with organizations like WBEC ORV."

The event was held in Lexington at the Marriott Griffin Gate Hotel and Resort. The purpose of the event was to provide networking and training to certified women business owners and corporations in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. The conference also featured events like corporate and WBE workshops, showcases, meet the buyer events and an awards dinner to recognize change-makers in the community. The conference welcomed over 500 attendees from across the region.

“Supporting the efforts of WBEC ORV makes good business sense. We work with many women-owned businesses, and they represent an important part of our UK supply chain. Growing our spending with women-owned businesses will be very important as we pursue growth in our overall diverse business enterprise expenditures. This growth will have a positive impact on the community and that impact is our ultimate measure of success,” said Barry Swanson, UK chief procurement officer.

For more information about the Women’s Business Enterprise Council Ohio River Valley, visit

Learn more about UK's Supplier Diversity Program here


WBEC ORV is an organization for women business owners interested in promoting, developing and maintaining business relationships with other women business owners, major corporations and governmental agencies. The organization's charge is to certify women-owned businesses and to promote the activities directed at the development, expansion and encouragement of businesses owned by women. The organization is one of 14 Regional Partner Organizations (RPO) in the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council network and serves Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. The organization was established as Ohio River Valley Women’s Business Council (ORV~WBC) in March 2009 and has now rebranded as Women’s Business Enterprise Council Ohio River Valley (WBEC ORV) to align with the branding of the national WBENC organization.

WBEC ORV is operated by the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio Business Development and Entrepreneurship Department under the authority of WBENC. The Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2009, WBEC ORV began with seven corporate members and 348 certified WBEs. Today, there are over 1,000 certified WBEs and nearly 80 corporate members.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.